The Rise of Homeworking

Author Jimmy Bower

Laptop

​First, there were cubicles – as many employees as humanly possible, crammed into as little space as could be spared, each with a phone, PC and swivel chair to boot.

Then we moved beyond this – open plan was ‘in’, and water cooler conversation became a real thing.

Fast forward a few years; job descriptions suddenly started including an actual section about the office you’d be working in; from AstroTurfed kitchen areas to ‘break out’ rooms (with the obligatory Xbox/Play Station, of course) and fresh fruit delivered daily, the office itself has now become a veritable workplace benefit, alongside healthcare, childcare vouchers and the like.

And today? In 2019, it’s as common to be selling the dazzling office space to potential employees as it is to be discussing how infrequently they need show up.

Whilst some decision makers still hold the misgivings of old about allowing staff to work from home, there are definite pros to giving people more freedom; it’s something which more and more people are wanting, nay expecting, whilst on the lookout for their next employer. Not only does it build trust, but ultimately, many individuals thrive when working entirely autonomously.

Of course, there are others who… Don’t.

Depending on the job function, considering flexible working conditions for your new employees can be important to do – so let’s discuss some of the pros and cons of homeworking.

Pro: Less distractions = higher productivity

Be honest – even the most laid back of ‘bosses’ have had to ask the team to tone down the banter and get some work done at some point. If your employees are sat at home tuned into their laptop, rather than what James and Andrew are gossiping about over the coffee machine, productivity is going to increase as such.

Con: More distractions = lower productivity

TV. Deliveries. Washing up. Laundry. A fridge full of food. Mum popping round for a cuppa.

Whilst there may not be the distractions of the team at home, that’s not to say there aren’t myriad more. There’s always the chance that working from home creates more distractions, rather than less; with that being said, there are many workflow management tools available today which can help ensure that, regardless, the work is getting done. Some people just need the buzz of the office to get them into ‘work mode’.

Pro: More remote communication = better communication

The simple fact is, when working from home your employee may not have to hand the information/tools/resources which they need, which in turn encourages communication between employees – whether they need to call Sarah to understand these figures better, or send an email to the marketing team to chase up the lead report they requested, being forced into communication with teams and individuals who you may have otherwise not can’t be a bad thing.

Con: More remote communication = worse communication

Ever read a perfectly friendly, professional email – then seen the dreaded “Regards” at the end?

When communicating through text and email things can be easily misinterpreted; without advanced writing skills, it can be difficult to demonstrate tone of voice, resulting in things often being taken ‘the wrong way’. What might have been an easy going conversation face to face may be misconstrued, or a joke may be misunderstood. Whilst more communication is a good thing, it only is so if the communication itself is positive.

Pro: Flexibility = happy employees

Fact: life gets in the way.

Whether it’s picking up the kids from school or being home to accept your online grocery shop, fundamentally it can be a huge benefit for employees to have that one day of the week where they’re able to schedule things around their life goings on, rather than having to struggle to make things work.

And having that flexibility, that little less of a worry, is going to positively affect that employee’s mood, period.

Con: Too much flexibility = unhappy employees

The truth about working from home?

It can be boring, lonely, and sometimes extremely demotivating.

What works for one doesn’t work for all – and that applies especially for homeworking. Giving employees the option may leave them feeling obliged to take that day – think entering the office to calls of, “What are you doing here? Go home, it’s your day off!” – and leave them feeling down and demotivated after a day spent struggling through at home. Some people simply work better, and happier, in the office environment – it’s truly a case by case situation.

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Of course, all of the above change completely depending on each and every different individual you employ – it’s not a one-size-fits-all scheme, nor is there a right or wrong. Whilst some employees will relish the opportunity to prove to you that they’re to be trusted away from the office, it may strike fear into the hearts of others, who simply thrive in the convivial environment of a familiar workspace.

At interview stage, finding out what’s important in terms of the practicalities of the job is important. Do they lack initiative and crave some form of micromanagement? Will they throw up a fuss at the mere mention of a paperwork day spent in the office? Is there a happy medium?

Certus builds teams across Sales, Marketing and IT, from a graduate to director level – we’re experts at understanding how your business works, and who’s going to work for you (whether at home or in the office). Get in touch to hear more about how to implement flexible working schemes which are going to work for you and your new employees.